At long last, Solo: A Star Wars Story has arrived and it is a fun, bumpy adventure!
I had the opportunity to catch an early screening of Solo: A Star Wars Story earlier this week and have now managed to process my thoughts regarding the film. As promised above, this review is spoiler-free. Do call me out though if there is something you think might be a spoiler and I’ll take a look at it.
This film provides fans with a deeper look into the earlier years of one of most well known Star Wars characters from the franchise – Han Solo. We get to see the development of a young, naive would-be pilot throughout he course of the film, where he learns important lessons that fans of the original Star Wars trilogy can see connect to the original portrayal of the character by Harrison Ford. We see him learn new skills, establish long-lasting friendships, and learn the brutal realities of betrayal.
Solo: A Star Wars Story stars Alden Ehrenreich (Stoker), Woody Harrelson (The Glass Castle), Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), Donald Glover (Atlanta), and Paul Bettany (Avengers: Infinity War). They all give good performances across the board. However, there were certain performances that stood out more than others. Of course, as has been hard not to miss in any of the coverage pertaining to the film, Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian stands out the most from the group. The way that he moved, the inflection of his speech, and how he managed to embody Lando’s notorious confidence and swagger; Glover was truly Lando. However, you didn’t leave the film wanting more of the character. His place in the film should be enough to satisfy Star Wars fans everywhere without the need for a spinoff.
After hearing the awful rumors about Lucasfilm bringing an acting coach on set, I wasn’t sure what all to expect with Alden Ehrenreich’s portrayal of Han Solo. I knew we weren’t going to get Harrison Ford. And I had seen Enrenreich in numerous other projects prior to this film, so I had faith in his ability to do a somewhat convincing portrayal of Han. I went in the film with an open mind, reminding myself that this film was taking place prior to the Han that audiences already knew and loved. That mindset definitely helped in my viewing of the film. You see, this film takes place about 15 or so years prior to the events of A New Hope. There is a lot of character development and personal growth that can occur between that time. In my opinion, Ehrenreich did well. There were moments where you could see the signature Han Solo charisma shine through. Other times, you got the sense that he was very wet behind the ears while trying to blend into the scoundrels he ran into throughout the film. Some may argue that his passion with Q’ira wasn’t believable. I would argue that it makes sense once you see the film in its entirety. You’ll know what I mean by then. All in all, I wasn’t disappointed by his portrayal.
I’m disappointed by how little we saw of Paul Bettany’s villain. However, I felt that keeping his presence to a minimum kept the focus of the story on what should have mattered most – Han Solo. In my opinion, this was a great benefit to the story because the viewer wouldn’t get distracted by figuring out all of the various story arcs. The lack of focus on the most obvious villain also allowed audience members to dive further into the ambiguous nature of the cast of scoundrels that Han has to contend with. This comes out the most when we see Han interact with Emilia Clarke’s Q’ira, a character written in a way that makes audience members want to learn more as soon as the film ends.
With regards to the actual story, it is pretty bumpy. It starts off pretty slow and with a couple of jumps forward in time that messes with the pacing of the film. However, once you reach the last third of the film, the pace speeds up rapidly. There are also a couple of plotholes that I did notice while viewing, but I love you all too much to openly discuss them at this time. I want to wait to see if you notice them and come back to me to discuss. One of the huge pluses I can mention from this film is how many female characters there are and how much each one stands out without it being too blatantly obvious that they were strong females. They were complicated and, in the case of Q’ira, left us wanting more.
Overall, I think that SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY is a pretty decent film in the Star Wars cinematic universe. Given how quickly director Ron Howard had to shoot the film after the production issues the film suffered from, I thought the final product was pretty good. I am not 100% positive that hardcore fans will like the film. If you are anything like me and have read outside source material (cough cough Han Solo Omnibus), you may find yourself wishing that certain things could have been expanded upon. There is also the added difficulty of creating a prequel film to a character that is so defined by a previous performance. It makes it difficult for fans to accept anything else. If fans go in with an open mind, I think they will be able to enjoy Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is out now in theaters.